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  • Writer's pictureJaney Wong

Start Small, Think Big: The Gradual Approach to Localization

Avoiding the All-or-Nothing Mindset in Localization


Approach to Localization

At Undertow, we understand the challenges that SaaS businesses face when expanding into global markets. One crucial aspect of this process is localization – the act of adapting a product or service to meet the language, culture, and other requirements of a specific market. 


However, diving headfirst into full-scale localization can be overwhelming and even counterproductive. Instead, adopting a gradual approach allows for a more efficient and effective localization process.


What You Will Learn:



The Gradual Approach to Localization: Break Down Barriers and Improve User Experience


Miguel Sepulveda, Globalization Director at King, the mobile company known for Candy Crush, explains why companies need localization: “One of the important reasons for companies to do localization is to remove the language barrier. Language plays a crucial role in communication and localization addresses language barriers by translating, and adapting the content in the local languages into the target market.”


Localization improves the overall user experience by tailoring products and services to the specific needs and preferences of the target audience. It's not just about translating words; it involves adapting user interfaces, date formats, currency, measurement units, payment methods, and even colors and images to resonate with local audiences.


Improve User Experience

Starting Small: The MVP Mindset


Miguel emphasizes the importance of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mindset in localization. He advises, "Start small and gradually increase complexity. Avoid an all-or-nothing mindset." This approach allows companies to test their localized product in one or two markets before adding more layers of complexity and expanding to additional markets.


As Miguel warns, this strategy helps avoid the "all-or-nothing" mindset, which can lead to oversimplification of localization or overambitious plans to launch in numerous markets simultaneously.


Consider the case of Evernote, a popular note-taking application. Evernote decided to enter the Chinese market with a localized version of their app known as "Yinxiang Biji." 


This was not simply a direct translation of Evernote. Instead, it was a carefully tailored version that catered to the unique cultural and functional needs of Chinese users. Evernote started small by initially focusing on one market and one version of its product. This localized MVP allowed them to understand the specific requirements of Chinese users, iterate upon the feedback, and ultimately expand into China successfully. 


It's proof that starting small, thinking big, and adopting a gradual approach to localization can yield significant results.


Evernote, app and web software

Building Trust and Loyalty through Localization

Localization also plays a crucial role in building trust and establishing stronger connections with local customers. Miguel explains, “By localizing, you build trust, and that will bring loyalty. And that's the best thing for a company because you want loyal users.”


The localization process, if done correctly, signals to customers that the company values their unique needs and preferences. This can lead to increased engagement and customer loyalty.


Involving Localization Early in Product Development


Miguel advocates for involving localization early in product development - during the ideation phase. He says, “The best moment to involve localization is when you actually have the idea of concept.”


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Getting localization involved early helps ensure that the product is designed with global markets in mind from the beginning, reducing the need for costly and time-consuming changes later on. It also allows for a more efficient and streamlined localization process.


Case Study: Airbnb's Gradual Localization Strategy


Airbnb presents a remarkable example of a company that has leveraged the gradual approach to successful localization. When it first launched, Airbnb primarily focused on the U.S. market. However, as their user base began to grow, they recognized the need to expand globally and localize their platform. 


Instead of plunging into full-scale localization for multiple markets, Airbnb decided to begin small, following the MVP mindset Miguel advocates. They initially localized their platform for a few key markets, including France and Germany. This provided an opportunity to learn, iterate, and refine their localization process.


By starting small, Airbnb was able to understand the specific needs and preferences of these markets, adapt their product accordingly, and establish a strong connection with the local users. This successful localization not only enhanced user experience but also helped build trust and loyalty among local users.


Case Study: Localization Strategy

Once they had solidified their localization process and understood the distinct needs of different markets, Airbnb gradually expanded their localization efforts to over 60,000 cities in more than 190 countries around the world. Their meticulous, step-by-step approach to localization has undoubtedly played a significant role in their global success.


As demonstrated by Airbnb, the gradual approach to localization allows companies to test their strategies, learn from their experiences, and adapt their services to cater to the unique needs and preferences of local users. 


This case study firmly validates Miguel's advice - "Start small and gradually increase complexity." With a well-planned and gradually implemented localization strategy, companies can successfully break down barriers and create a user experience that resonates with customers across diverse markets.


Embracing Global Expansion: How Undertow's Expertise in Localization and Digital Marketing Can Propel Your Business Success


In conclusion, adopting a gradual approach to localization allows for a more manageable and effective process. By starting small, thinking big, and involving localization early in product development, companies can successfully expand into global markets, build trust with local customers, and improve user experience. As Miguel puts it, "Start with the end in mind."


Undertow translation services

At Undertow, we’re here to guide you through this process. With our expertise in localization and digital marketing, we can help you break down language barriers, adapt your product to local markets, and build strong connections with your customers around the world. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your localization efforts. 


Let’s start small and think big together.


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